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April 29, 2018 10:14 am

Amid First Overseas Trip as Secretary of State, Pompeo Meets With Israeli PM Netanyahu to Talk Iran

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New Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greet each other in Tel Aviv, April 29, 2018. Photo: Haim Zach / GPO.

New US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Tel Aviv on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Pompeo flew to Israel from Riyadh, where he met with King Salman and other top Saudi officials.

The security of state’s current overseas trip kicked off in Belgium, where he attended a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Friday, and will end in Jordan on Monday.

“We are very proud of the fact that this is your first visit as secretary of state,” Netanyahu told Pompeo as they greeted each other at the Israeli Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

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Pompeo replied, “You’re an incredibly important partner, [and] occupy a special place in my heart too.”

At Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, before Pompeo touched down at Ben-Gurion International Airport, Netanyahu said, “Today we will welcome US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a true friend of Israel. I think that it is important that he is coming to Israel as part of his first visit outside the US as secretary of state. I will discuss with him developments in the region, Iran’s growing aggression and — of course — the nuclear agreement with Iran, about which there will be a decision soon.”

On Friday, Pompeo, whose appointment as secretary of state was confirmed by the Senate the previous day, indicated that while President Donald Trump had not yet made a decision of whether to exit the Iran nuclear deal, he was likely to do so unless major changes were made to toughen it.

Following his sit-down with Netanyahu on Sunday, Pompeo said at a joint press conference with the Israeli leader, “President Trump’s been pretty clear: This deal is very flawed. He’s directed the administration to try and fix it and if we can’t fix it he’s going to withdraw from the deal.”

The secretary of state also noted the Trump administration was “deeply concerned about Iran’s dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region.”

“The United States is with Israel in this fight,” Pompeo vowed.

Netanyahu said that the Tehran regime’s “aggression has grown many folds since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal. If people thought that Iran’s aggression would be moderated as a result of signing the deal, the opposite has happened.”

“Iran is trying to gobble up one country after another,” Netanyahu emphasized. “Iran must be stopped.”

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